30th September 2015

Original Mountain Month September ’15

The end of our fourth Mountain Month is upon us and the sun’s been out to finish it off in style.

We’ve had another great month, this time joined by Anne Rebecca and Carol. The course is always bespoke to the clients and this time it’s been a fairly even mix of mountain days with a Mountain Leader focus and rock climbing, whilst we’ve kept the Single Pitch Award scheme in the back of our mind, the main focus of the climbing has been to get lots of leading done.

Anne Rebecca and Carol have been navigating us around the hills, micro navigating their way up and over Moel Siabod, getting us safely across Crib Goch, walking on bearings over the Glyderau plateau, amongst many other days out on the hill.

On the climbing front they progressed from me leading them up climbs like Ordinary Route on Idwal Slabs, to them leading me up routes such as the mega classic Crackstone Rib and Skylon on Carreg Wastad. We have visited loads of great crags around North Wales, including the cliffs on Anglesey, Bwlch y Moch and Upper Tier at Tremadog, crags in Ogwen, crags in the Pass, the slate quarries, even sport climbing on the coast.

Both of them have now completed their SPA training so will now need to get out climbing as much as possible to consolidate their new skills with a view to working towards an assessment and all that’s left is the official ML training which takes place next week

They’ve both done really well and have been a pleasure to work with throughout the month! A big thank you goes out to the other instructors who have played a part in the month too – Terry, Mike and Anthony.

Moving into our third year of running this course, the next one we have running starts on the 29th February and we have already got one client signed up so there’s only on space remaining, get in touch for more info and take a look at our Facebook page for loads of photos of what we’ve been up to and have a look at the Instructor Training page for more info.

September is super busy!

Our Original Mountain Month is in full flow with our two clients Carol and Anne Rebecca already improving lots. They been navigating in the hills, leading on the cliffs, improving their technique indoors and mountaineering on the East Face of Tryfan. Lots more to come too!

I was also directing a Brian Dent Single Pitch Award assessment last weekend with 8 candidates, the weather was super kind to us and I really enjoyed the weekend, as I always do.

Last week Terry looked after the mountain month for us, whilst I was working with an MOD group down in Dartmoor. We had an awesome week of good weather and had fun biking, climbing and a mini expedition. I had a brilliant group who learnt a lot and developed many skills, as well as providing top banter.

Loads more to come this month, so I’m thankful my new puppy Oreo is sleeping better at night!

As usual, check out the Facebook page for loads more photos!





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8th April 2015

A busy first quarter of the year!

What a busy start!

We’ve had all sorts of courses going on….

A couple of Mountain Leader training courses including one with a little bit of snow and one with overnight winds of 95mph!

A few Single Pitch award courses both trainings and assessments where we’ve been super lucky with the weather.

The third Original Mountain Month has just finished which was, as always a great success! We climbed some awesome routes at loads of different crags, from Gogarth to Tremadog and loads in between, plus had a good few mountain days looking at navigation, rope work and wild camping.

In amongst those there’s been an intro to scrambling course, an ML refresher and some D of E work.

Outside of work I’ve had some cracking days climbing in North Wales and over the winter some absolutely stella days mixed climbing in the snow and ice of Scotland,

Now the suns out in North Wales it’s time to really start making the most of it!

For loads of shots, check out the Facebook page!

20th December 2014

Rock Climbing Instructor / Single Pitch Award Review Document

I’ve updated a document I pass on to clients when they’ve been on an Rock Climbing Instructor (new SPA!) course with me.

It’s still a work in progress, but feel free to take a look and I hope it proves useful to you.

If I can be of any help, please feel free to get in touch.

Here’s the link: RCI Review Document

Take a look at the Facebook page to see what we’ve been up to lately!

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10th October 2014

Mountain Leader Assessment Top Tips

I've been running a number of Mountain Leader Courses (click here for our ML courses) over the last few months and whilst working on Training courses or Refreshers the topic of conversation inevitably comes on to Assessment top tips at some point!

So, I've put together my top five general tips, in no particular order.... But do remember, as a potential Mountain Leader you shouldn't forget the assessment is just a little snap shot and the real focus should be on becoming a good leader for working with your future clients....

mountain leader assessment relaxed

Happy and relaxed!

1. Relax
Where does all the pressure come from on an assessment? It's all from yourself, not the assessor (well not me or the top people I employ on our courses!) Remember that we want you to pass! No one likes telling a client that they're not up to the required standard and will have to come back to redo some element of the course.
We love being out in the hills and want to have a nice time so will do our best to put you at ease and get the best out of you. Hopefully on an assessment you'll learn something new that you haven't seen before, treat it as a way of showing off your skills and as another learning opportunity too.

2. Be Prepared
If you have spent plenty of time out on the hills practising and logging plenty of Quality Mountain Days then you'll cruise your assessment. Remember the magic number of 40 QMDs, that is a minimum, most strong candidates with have lots more. The assessors are not trying to catch you out, simply we are giving you the opportunity to show us that you can competently meet all the aspects of the syllabus.

Some people benefit from doing a one or two day refresher course, this could either be to brush up on your skills if it's been a while since your training or as a mock assessment to confirm you are at the required standard and boost your confidence moving on to assessment.

3. Bullet Proof Tactics
Candidates often make their lives harder than they need to by coming up with rushed and convoluted
Remember the simple things like hand railing nice obvious linear features and using attack points to get you close to that tiny re-entrant the assessor has asked you to get to. Minimise distances that you need to walk on a bearing with pacing by getting close to the feature first, this will make your life easier and give you less opportunity to make an error.
The same goes for the other aspects like rope work, which is very simple these days. You can do everything with an overhand knot if you want - just don't over complicate systems and make sure all anchors are indestructible.

4. Take Your Time
There's no rush on an assessment, that doesn't mean an assessor wants to see you faffing around though! For example, when navigating a leg, once you've reached your target, take a few minutes to get all the information from your surroundings and relate them to your map.

Does everything fit? I'd suggest three solid points of justification for every decision and that goes for relocating when you not leading too, which is often harder. That bit of high ground 20m away? Go and stand on it, look around.
Same goes for route finding on rockier terrain, don't be afraid of leaving your group in a safe spot to have a quick drink whilst you nip round the corner to see which is the best way through any obstacles.

5. Enjoy it!
It's five days in the mountains with like minded, psyched people, how cool is that! You will learn new things (maybe even teach the assessor something!), meet new people, probably go to a new area in the hills, have two wild camps, play with some ropes, cross a river and chat about flora, glaciation, maybe some local myths or legends and get excited finding tiny contour features. It's a little holiday really?!

mountain leader campcraft

A nice sunny camp!

A few random specific tips of which there's loads
1. When asking your client to step into a rope loop, why not get them to put it over their head instead? You're on sketchy, rocky ground and they might be nervous so why have them hopping around too?

2. Be organised in camp. It's really easy to see experienced campers, all their kit is squared away at no risk of getting wet or blown away when that squall hits.

3. You've followed the above tips and have taken your time to justify your location, so when you tell the assessor where you are, say so confidently instead of going "Err, I think we are here". Be confident, be happy 🙂

4. Have a spare compass and head torch.

5. Keep your exped pack as light as possible, see this previous blog: Lightweight ML Exped Kit

The ML is a great award, it opens up so many opportunities for leading groups and maybe even progressing on to other Mountain Training awards such as the Winter ML or the Mountaineering Instructor Award.

Best of luck!

For updates of what we've been up to check out the Instagram feed & Facebook Page